News Roundup for October 23, 2023

October 23, 2023
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J Street In the News

As Israel Wages War on Hamas, Colleges and Companies Take Flak Over Their Responses, JTA
“In recent days, left-leaning Jewish groups have tried to strike that balance — and perhaps feel they have more leeway than universities and corporations to express concern for both Jewish and Palestinian lives. In a statement issued on October 19, J Street, the liberal Jewish Israel lobby, wrote, “Like the Biden Administration, J Street stands with the Israeli people in their grief, and we support Israel’s right to defend its citizens, disarm Hamas, and respond to this horror in accordance with international law.” The same statement added: “At the same time, we are profoundly worried for the safety of the over 2 million Palestinian civilians in Gaza — half of whom are children — as this conflict turns their streets and their homes into an active war zone.”

J Street Deeply Concerned Over Anti-Democratic Crackdowns in Israel, J Street
“This atmosphere of intimidation, repression and enforced ideological conformity is deeply alarming and wrong. Israel’s pluralistic democracy is a strength, not a weakness, and a cornerstone of the US-Israel relationship. Times of war test our values and democratic freedoms and we cannot allow them to become casualties of conflict. J Street calls on Israeli authorities to uphold the rights of free speech, free assembly and non-violent protest, and we urge the Biden Administration to stress the importance of these rights and protections in their ongoing discussions with the Israeli government.”

J Street Condemns Violence Against Civilians In The West Bank, Calls For Action To Prevent Disaster, J Street
“J Street also cannot be clearer in our denunciation of those Israelis who appear to be seizing this moment as an opportunity to pursue a campaign of lethal, violent retaliatory attacks against Palestinians and their communities in the occupied West Bank. […] We call on the Biden Administration, the Israeli government and Palestinian political leaders to act with urgency to stop the West Bank from spiraling further into conflict, which will only add to the devastating suffering that has resulted from Hamas’s horrific crimes against humanity two weeks ago.”

J Street Welcomes Letter to President Biden from 131 Member of Congress on Israel-Hamas War, J Street
“Importantly, the letter makes the point that a commitment to Israel’s security is not incompatible with a commitment to the humanitarian needs of the innocent people of Gaza. The Members call on the administration to ensure that the basic necessities of life for Gaza’s civilians are met — food, water and medicine — and that non-combatants and civilians in Gaza have secure passage to safe zones in which to seek refuge.”

Top News and Analysis

What Israel Should Do Now, Vox
Zack Beauchamp writes, “Two things are true: Israel must do something, and what it’s doing now is indefensible. So what’s the alternative? I put this question to anyone I could think of: a large group ranging from retired Israeli officers to Palestinian intellectuals to counterterrorism experts to scholars of the ethics and law of war. I read everything I could find on the topic, scouring reporting and the academic literature for better ideas. The answer that emerged was deceptively simple: make the right choice where America made the wrong one. Israel should launch a targeted counterrorism operation aimed at Hamas leadership and the fighters directly involved in the October 7 attack, one that focuses on minimizing both civilian casualties and the scope of ground operations in Gaza.”

Israel Says Two Americans Held Hostage by Hamas, a Mother and Daughter, Have Been Released, AP
Hamas on Friday freed an American woman and her teenage daughter who had been held hostage in Gaza, Israel said, the first such release from among the roughly 200 people the militant group abducted from Israel during its October 7 rampage. Judith Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie, were out of the Gaza Strip and in the hands of the Israeli military, an army spokesman said.

Trickle of Aid Enters Gaza as Israel Ramps Up Airstrikes and Palestinian Deaths Keep Mounting, CNN
A second convoy of desperately needed aid entered Gaza on Sunday as Israel widened its offensive against Hamas and its regional enemies, intensifying airstrikes on the besieged enclave, targeting the occupied West Bank and striking Hezbollah cells in Lebanon. Overnight strikes on Sunday appeared to be the most sustained bombardment of northern Gaza in the past two weeks, according to a CNN team on the ground in southern Israel.

US Advises Israel to Delay Gaza Invasion, Officials Say, The New York Times
The Biden administration has advised Israel to delay a ground invasion of Gaza, hoping to buy time for hostage negotiations and to allow more humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in the sealed-off enclave, according to several US officials. American officials also want more time to prepare for attacks on US interests in the region from Iran-backed groups, which officials said are likely to intensify once Israel moves its forces fully into Gaza.

Under Attack From Settlers and Clashing With the IDF, Palestinians Fear the ‘Take Over of the West Bank’, Rolling Stone
Residents of the West Bank are now afraid that with the backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu’s government, the most right-wing in history, the radical Israeli settler movement will use the war as a chance to drive them from their homes and seize more territory. Over the past week, eight communities — home to 87 families numbering 472 people, 136 of them children — were forced to leave their homes because of settler violence, B’Tselem said in a press release. The risk of violence here is ever present. In the West Bank, at least 75 Palestinians have been killed since October 7 – nine of them were killed on October 19 alone.

Israel Tells Gazans to Move South or Risk Being Seen as ‘Terrorist’ Partner, Reuters
Palestinians said they had received renewed warnings from Israel’s military to move from north Gaza to the south of the strip, with the added warning that they could be identified as sympathizers with a “terrorist organization” if they stayed put. The message was delivered in leaflets marked with the Israel Defense Forces name and logo from Saturday and sent to people via mobile phone audio messages across the Gaza Strip.


Biden Walks a Tightrope with His Support for Israel as His Party’s Left Urges Restraint, AP
As expectations grow that Israel will soon launch a ground offensive aimed at rooting out Hamas militants, Biden finds himself facing anew the difficult balancing act of demonstrating full-throated support for America’s closest ally in the Middle East while trying to also press the Israelis to act with enough restraint to keep the war from spreading into a broader conflagration. He also increasingly is paying greater public heed to the plight of Palestinians and the potential consequences of a hardline Israeli response.

Israel Strikes Militant Compound Under West Bank Mosque, Military Says, Reuters
Israeli aircraft struck a compound beneath a mosque in the occupied West Bank early on Sunday that the military said was being used by militants to organize attacks, and Palestinian medics said at least one person was killed. The Israeli air strike is at least the second in recent days to hit the West Bank, where violence has surged since Hamas gunmen from Gaza carried out a deadly October 7 rampage in Israel.

Prominent Palestinian Activist Says IDF Evicted Him from His Home in Hebron, The Times of Israel
Issa Amro says IDF soldiers came to his home last Wednesday and told him he should leave Hebron for the duration of the war before coming back two days later and handing him a military order forcing him to vacate the premises. Amro lives in the H2 section of Hebron, which is under Israeli military control. The military order directed him to move to H1, which is under Palestinian Authority control.

Israelis Feel Abandoned by Netanyahu After October 7, Vox
Prior to the October 7 attacks Netanyahu’s right-wing government was already deeply unpopular among large swathes of society. Now, his government is being held at least partly responsible for the massive security failure that enabled the attacks. Some of the highest-ranking officials in the government, including the head of the armed forces and the security services, have taken responsibility for the lapses and blind spots that allowed Hamas to kill at least 1,400 Israelis and kidnap 200, mostly civilians.

Little Light, No Beds, Not Enough Anesthesia: A View from the ‘Nightmare’ of Gaza’s Hospitals, AP
Hospitals in the Gaza Strip are nearing collapse under the Israeli blockade that cut power and deliveries of food and other necessities to the territory. They lack clean water. They are running out of basic items for easing pain and preventing infections. Fuel for their generators is dwindling. Israel’s offensive has devastated neighborhoods, shuttered five hospitals, killed thousands and wounded more people than its remaining health facilities can handle.

Israeli Soldiers Report Limited Access to Mental Support Within IDF, Seek Civilian Treatment, Haaretz
Israeli conscript and reserve soldiers have been reporting a lack of adequate accessibility to psychological first aid services provided by Israel Defense Forces professionals. In the wake of these reports, expanded services have been provided in recent days, given unofficially by civilian psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers to soldiers and commanders.

Hezbollah Steps up Attacks, IDF Says, Fueling Fears of Wider Conflict, The Washington Post
Fears mounted Sunday that the Israel-Gaza war could swell into a wider conflict amid rising cross-border attacks on Israel’s north from Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and expanding Israeli airstrikes across the region. The potential for escalation remained particularly high along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where the Israeli military continued to evacuate towns on Sunday in the face of “more and more attacks” from Hezbollah.

Opinion and Analysis

A Brief History of the Netanyahu-Hamas Alliance, Haaretz
Adam Raz writes, “When Netanyahu declared in April 2019, as he has after every other round of fighting, that “we have restored deterrence with Hamas” and that “we have blocked the main supply routes,” he was lying through his teeth. For over a decade, Netanyahu has lent a hand, in various ways, to the growing military and political power of Hamas. Netanyahu is the one who turned Hamas from a terror organization with few resources into a semi-state body.”

Picking Up the Pieces of Our Grief, +972
Noam Shuster shares, “When people experience a great deal of grief, they usually also feel shame and anger that they need to channel somewhere. People’s capacity to see beyond their wounds and pain is limited. We need recognition, compassion, solidarity, and a voice. By having a voice, you feel like you have agency. By having agency, you are able to imagine taking action. And when that action is tangible, you get the sense that you might actually be able to influence the situation and help your loved ones.”

I’m an Israeli, But I Believe Inflicting More Harm on Gaza Will Not Bring a Solution, The Guardian
Alon-Lee Green notes, “In Standing Together, we believe that these devastating consequences of the atrocious Hamas attack are not inevitable. Inflicting more harm on civilians in Gaza will not lead to a solution. As some of the survivors of the terror attacks have bravely and inspiringly stated, killing civilians for the sake of revenge will only lead to more suffering for civilians; the solution has to be peaceful. Since 2005, there have been 16 major military operations launched by Israel against the civilian population in Gaza. None of them brought safety and security to Israelis or Palestinians. None laid the ground to any kind of peaceful settlement — rather, each only planted the seed for the next one.”

We Must Not Kill Gazan Children to Try to Protect Israel’s Children, The New York Times
Nicholas Kristof writes, “I particularly want to challenge the suggestion, more implicit than explicit, that Gazan lives matter less because many Palestinians sympathize with Hamas. People do not lose their right to life because they have odious views, and in any case, almost half of Gazans are children. Those kids in Gaza, infants included, are among the more than two million people enduring a siege and collective punishment. Israel has suffered a horrifying terrorist attack and deserves the world’s sympathy and support, but it should not get a blank check to slaughter civilians or to deprive them of food, water and medicine.”